Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Falling into Magic (Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic #1), by Elizabeth Pantley

Kindle Direct, November 2020

Hayden Caldwell's parents disappeared, her father the day she was born, and her mother two days later. She was raised by her grandmother--Nana, and her great-grandmother--Granana. 

When she was a child, her cat disappeared. The adults told her the cat ran away, but Hayden knew something they didn't. There's a magic mirror in the house, and she and Fluffball had already nearly fallen through it once. That's where Fluffball had disappeared to, she knew.

What the adults have never told her is that she had a brother, two years older than her, who disappeared along with her father.

As an adult herself, she's running Natural Living Magazine with her friend, Luna, living alone with her Himalayan cat, Sassy, and still very close with Nana and Granana. She's also close to Luna's large, Italian family.

Then one day, after a disturbing series of encounters with a red-bearded man wearing grass-stained canvass pants, Hayden, carrying her cat in a carrier, is pushed, falls into a construction hole, and finds herself--somewhere else.

It's a very different place, a seemingly idyllic but essentially normal small town. She's found by a man who introduces himself as her brother, Axel Caldwell, and tells her the town is Destiny Falls. He takes her to Caldwell Crest, a magnificent home at the top of a hill overlooking Destiny Falls. Their father and grandparents are away, but he'll help her prepare to meet them.

That sounds a little ominous, and there's something odd about the house. It seems to rearrange itself as needed. For instance, Axel puts her in a guest room, but says that if it turns out she's staying, the house will make a room that suits her.

When they go into town to buy some clothes for her, she quickly notices that things aren't always in the same place. For instance, she sees the town library down the street before they go into the shops. She mentions it to Axel, and when they come out, it's directly across the street. We won't even talk about what she finds when she goes into the library. Oh, and her cat, Sassy, can now communicate with her telepathically, and now prefers to be called Latifa.

When disturbing incidents start follow her around--someone lurking outside seemingly trying to see into her room, someone breaking into Axel's car when they've left new purchases there while eating lunch and only her new bag is missing, a threatening stranger following her, Axel, and Olivia, his friend, and is only dissuaded from dong so by Olivia's very impressive dog, Hercules, to name a few, Hayden starts to wonder who she can trust.

Her grandparents, she now knows, had her father and Axel kidnapped to bring back to Destiny Falls, and refused his pleas to retrieve his wife and newborn daughter. Her father, Leonard, married again and is now divorced, and ex-wife Jan is very resentful. Her grandmother, Eleanor, is stiff, formal, and seems very disapproving. But grandfather Philip nearly married someone else, and ran off with Eleanor just days before the planned wedding. So ex-fiancée Patty could also have a grudge, but is she anywhere around? There are also Hayden and Axel's half-sisters and their significant others.

The relationships are intricate, and the conflicts and confusion about who can and can't be trusted are well-portrayed. The characters are believable, with real doubt about who might have a motive to harm Hayden.

I have a suspicion about what Destiny Falls' secret is, but that mystery isn't one that's resolved in this first book in the series.

A fun read, not deep, but enjoyable.

I bought this book.

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